Top DIY Rock Songs & Albums of 2014, Vol. IV – Bat Zuppel, Young Creatures, The Holy Ghost Electric Show, Tupelo Honey

Pittsburgh's Bat Zuppel rock as hard as they play
The IRC series, Top DIY Songs and Albums of 2014, has been such a hit with readers around the globe and across the web that we figured it only made sense to push out the fourth installment sooner than planned. Every year thousands of terrific singles and releases from DIY artists and bands fly under the radar. Often, through the years, you guys have pushed them on to the radar after they were featured on IRC and via our Facebook and Twitter feeds.

First up, in Vol. IV of this series (which will run for some weeks), are artists and bands whose 2014 releases were big hits with IRC listeners and readers around the U.S. and the world. Also, we’re getting closer to finding a player to use to replace the Yahoo Media Player (Yahoo stopped supporting it in 2014) so that you can stream all of the songs in this post. You can also download and stream them one by one by clicking through the player or as you read the entries below.


Bat Zuppel – Brain Eater

From small basements throughout Pittsburg, PA, the DIY garage rock band Bat Zuppel knock out aggressive teen angst with a well honed style they’ve been working on since forming in 2013. The sound is raw and gritty, drawn from their favorite ‘old punk and garage rock bands,’ all in an effort to ‘recreate that chaotic atmosphere’ bands from those days funneled into their music.

Last March, the band released their debut album, Brain Eater, featuring tracks like the crunchy “Under My Bed” and the Sonic Youth-inspired, “Apparition Girl.” Bat Zuppel’s sound and style is also informed from bands like The Damned, Metz, Nirvana, Ty Segall and Wavves. The trio features Matt Ruppel on bass, Zach Bronder on guitar and vocals and Gordy Brash on drums. “We play a lot of basement shows, those are the most fun for us and I feel like the fans have the most fun at these shows.” Bronder said. “We recorded and mixed this album entirely by ourselves, a lot of work was put into this one.”

Under My BedBat Zuppel from Brain Eater

Apparition GirlBat Zuppel from Brain Eater


Young Creatures – Fear All Things EP

Los Angeles indie rock band Young Creatures has been competing for a piece of the LA music scene – the most saturated and competitive music scene int he world – since 2011. Over the past couple of years, they’ve managed to attract a small following. Julie Slater chose the band as her ‘Local Anesthetic’ on 88.5 KCSN in Los Angeles last year. We think the following two tracks exemplify the band’s sound perfectly – Young Creatures draw on heavy classic rock riffs peppered with indie rock hooks from guitarists Mike Post and Andrew Gleason, bassist Spender King and drummer Mikey Escalante. Post’s effortlessly terrific vocal melodies line up nicely with the band’s riff-oriented rock sound that honors musical influences such as Led Zeppelin, Delta Spirit, Dawes and Local Natives. The band’s latest EP, Fear All The Things, includes the standout track, “Lionheart,” which enjoyed frequent plays in the cafe, and the sunny pop of “Foreigner.” They’ve opened for bands like Burning Jet Black, The Sixth Son, Argentine, and The Podunk Poets.

LionheartYoung Creatures from Fear All The Things EP

ForeignerYoung Creatures from Fear All Things


The Holy Ghost Electric Show – The Great American

Based in the town of Oxford, in northeast Mississippi, The Holy Ghost Electric Show started out in an abandoned cabin a couple of years ago when songwriter, vocalist and guitarist Cody Rodgers began tirelessly working on songs for the eventual band’s 2014 release, The Great American. Together with other band members – including his brother Jake Rodgers on banjo and guitar, plus Austin Wheeler (drums), Connor Wroten (bass), and Will Shirley (chord organ) – Rodgers channeled his life experiences and thoughts into loosely arrange tracks that were honed over and over during performances at bars, house parties, in parking lots and even for “policemen in a park late at night,” with each member, Rodgers said, adding their own special touch to the songs.
“To me, indie rock isn’t a specific sound a band may have, but instead just simply an independent band,” Rodgers said, “that is willing to pay out of pocket, without the help of a label, to record the music they’ve made with care.”

Let The Waters RiseThe Holy Ghost Electric Show from The Great American

Phantom Engineer The Holy Ghost Electric Show from The Great American


Tupelo Honey – Brave New World

Edmonton rock band, Tupelo Honey, has become one of Canada’s top DIY rock acts over the past decade . On their 2014 album, Brave New World (which debuted at No. 7 on the Canadian iTunes Rock chart), the band has built on their popularity in the region and acquired fans across Canada, and increasingly in the U.S. The past few years have been a ride for the band; in fact, they were picked to share the stage with Bon Jovi for two shows at Rexall Place in Edmonton and The Saddledome in Calgary. They’ve also shared the stage with Billy Talent, Everclear, Three Days Grace, Thornley, and Metric. The band picked up even more interest after one of their tracks was used for a Sunkist commercial that aired during the televised Billboard Music Awards in 2012. While that may not sound very DIY, most bands nowadays have to rely on licensing their music to commercials, TV and cable shows, and other opportunities just to pay their basic costs because they simply don’t make money, or enough money, from singles and album sales.

Singer Dan Davidson, echoing this fact, told IRC that “indie rock isn’t a genre to us, it’s the DIY way to make our style of music and get it to the fans on our own terms.” We happen to dig their singles “Halo” and “Lifetime.” The other band members include Steve Vincent on bass; Tyler Dianocky on guitar; Brad Simons on guitar, and Greg Williamson on drums.

Halo Tupelo Honey from Brave New World – Feb. 6th

Lifetime Tupelo Honey from Brave New World


Justin DiFebbo – Turn Out The Light, Turn On The Stereo

Mixing acoustic and electric guitars with bass, piano, organs, ukelele and mandolin, singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalis Justin DiFebbo from Philadelphia crafts intricate, lush songs that draw from an eclectic background of church music, love for bands like the Beach Boys, The Beatles and Simon and Garfunkel, and years of music lessons from the time he was nine years old. During his early 20s, DiFebbo played the Hammond organ for the blues rock band K-Floor and toured extensively, performing live for more than 500. During this time, he honed his skills and developed a strong love of vintage keyboards, including the Hammond B3, Fender Rhodes and Wurltizer 200A.

In 2011, DiFebbo decided to strike out on his own. In 2014, he quietly released his debut album, Turn Out The Light, Turn On The Stereo, an homage to his keys fascination and a commendable exercise in recording and mixing all of the instruments, percussion and vocal tracks. His sound is a swirl of pop and harmonies, folk roots and bluesy rock with overtures of psych all supported by deep keys infusions. Tracks like the appropriately upbeat and melodic, “Coffee,” and the swaggering, reggae-like, “Play It Slow,” are two of the EP’s tracks that stand out particularly well.

CoffeeJustin DiFebbo from Turn Out The Light, Turn On The Stereo

Play It SlowJustin DiFebbo from Turn Out The Light, Turn On The Stereo


Pyrrhura – Off The Big Road

Not often do we receive music from Slovakia, but Milan Tarina Jr. is a 17-year-old experimental indie folk musician from the former Soviet satellite town of Nitra whose been playing keys for eight years now. Together with a passion for indie music, piano and synths, he decided to write and record some of his own songs. And we’re glad he did because we’ve listened to tracks like “Spring Is Coming” and “Clouds of Thoughts” again and again. While his raw, under-produced sound and nasally vocals may not be the typical fare that one assumes rises to the level of being featured on an indie blog, we still like his DIY style. The sound overall is hard to define. His father, Milan Tarina senior, who plays guitar and sings in a band called Bearish Dream, also contributed

In March of last year, using the moniker Pyrrhura, he self-released his sophomore EP, Off The Big Road. That EP was proceeded by his 2012 debut EP, Try To Think,. In 2013, he released his debut LP, In The Middle of The Forest, which you can stream on Bandcamp (and we highly recommend you do). Oh, and the band name? According to Wikipedia, Pyrrhura is a genus of parrots in South America. Tarina’s musical influences include a diverse collection of bands and artists, like Julian Plenti, Death Cab for Cutie, Borko, Woods, Fossil Collective, The National, Noah and the Whale, and Great Lake Swimmers.

Spring is ComingPyrrhura from Off The Big Road

Clouds Of ThoughtsPyrrhura from Off The Big Road


Fallen Among Thieves – Honey Mouth

We don’t know much about the unsigned Lancaster, PA indie rock trio Fallen Among Thieves other than to say they rock in the tradition of 90’s alternative rock and indie rock, with influences from bands like Surfer Blood and Cloud Nothings. Their songs are hard and crunchy as well as upbeat with ringing guitars as evidenced by two tracks from their Honey MouthEP. There’s no mistaking as well that the band members draw from Nirvana and Weezer in constructing and executing their own sound and style. The band members, formed in 2013, include Ian Anderson (drums); Joshua Buckwalter (vocals/guitar); Kurt Demarra (guitar); Carolyn Leber-Eyrich (vocals); and Sean Hillard (bass).

DownFallen Among Thieves from Honey Mouth

MateoFallen Among Thieves from Honey Mouth


She The Monster – Pacific EP

Drawing from influences that include Sufjan Stevens, Coldplay, Relient K and others, the multi-continental indie rock band She The Monster dropped their debut EP, Pacific, last March, featuring exceptional tracks like “I Like You The Way You Are” and “Dream.” Fronted by Green Bay signer/songwriter Andi Peot, whose sassy, soft vocals are endearing, and so far, underrated, the band formed in 2011 when Peot met guitarist Darren Oosthuizen and bassist James Lennox at university in Sydney, Australia.

Peot was impressed with their existing band Nova Sky, and in return, they where taken by her songwriting and vocal skills. And thus, the groundwork for She The Monster was laid. Teaming up with Nova Sky, Peot and the guys launched a series of successful shows in Sydney and then took a break. Months later, in December of 2012, they decided to get back together, but instead reformed as She The Monster, a new band with a sound that would be “a lot different to the alternative rock style of Nova Sky.” Former Nova Sky drummer Kyle Rutten from Canada also joined the new outfit. Sometimes it’s very smart for bands to make such changes early on when they realize they want, or need, to go in a different direction. For She The Monster, it worked out on Magical Goodness for the Soul. In June, the band released another EP, Wayfarer, featuring the track, “Hey.” Update: Right before publishing this post we heard the band has broken up. Oh well, the music they did make together is now officially part of the History of DIY Archives.

I Like You The Way You AreShe The Monster from Pacific EP

Dream She The Monster from Pacific EP


Cousin Dud – The Faded

With their upbeat, catchy track, “Illinois,” the Chicago band Cousin Dud are not duds at all. They remind us of The Proclaimers; they rock with a pop groove and some accordion riffs; they’re witty and like choruses that make you want to join in. “Illinois” is a good track when you just want to be mindlessly gleeful, and would fit in nicely with IRC’s next installment of the State of Music playlist series – which we really need to catch up with; it’s been a while.

A decidedly countryish-rock love song, “(Wilco) By The River,” harkens back to the soft Southern rock sound that was so big in the early to mid 70s. It’s really a very well written, executed and produced song from a band that deserves more attention. The members of Cousin Dud are Matt Carmichael (guitar, vocals), Josh Burns (guitar, vocals), Pete Geraci (saxophone), Dan Schuld (bass) and Ben Sams (drums). Their musical influences include The Hold Steady, The Grateful Dead, Oingo Boingo, Wilco, and The National. Their latest album dropped in March of 2014.

Illinois Cousin Dud from The Faded

Wilco (By The River)Cousin Dud from The Faded


The Whistles and the Bells – The Whistles and The Bells

During a 2010 tour, in which Nashville band, Cadillac Sky, was opening up for the Grammy-winning band Mumford and Sons, lead singer Bryan Simpson, a Nashville local, hit a wall – spiritually, mentally, physically and emotionally. In distress, Simpson made the incredible decision to leave the tour and his band right at the time when they had seemingly achieved the kind of success that just about any other band would give just about everything they had for. Supporting one of the hottest bands in the world is not a minor thing. But Simpson simply could not continue the rigorous tour. He battled demons and went to a very dark place, he told IRC.

He left it all behind to strike out on his own, and formed The Whistles and the Bells, making peace with himself and his former band mates. The entire experience, from the highs of a national spotlight, to the lows of his darkest moments on the road, provided plenty of material for the young songwriter. The result is his new band project’s self-titled debut album, described by his publicist as “the dark, and at times musically twisted, autobiographical snapshot of Bryan’s personal earthquake surrounding the education of studying his maker.” Obviously, he was particularly struggling with his faith. The debut album encompasses “all [of] the modern southern gothic swirl of sounds from blues, to Americana, to New Orleans-style horns and darkness of the [sic] self-exploration,” the type of material, he contends, that creates a “personal soundtrack of a character from a Faulkner novel.” The first single, “Mercy Please” was a Rolling Stone magazine daily download.

Mercy Please The Whistles and the Bells from The Whistles and the Bells

Transistor Radio The Whistles and the Bells from The Whistles and the Bells

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